By now, viewers have realized that The Orville is less a Star Trek parody and more of an homage to the Roddenberry vision.
And O.M.G. did The Orville Season 1 Episode 3 blow expectations out of the water with a controversial and heart-wrenching story challenging cultural traditions and beliefs.
When last we saw our second officer, he had just witnessed the birth/hatching of his first offspring, a baby girl, with his partner, Klyden.
The Moclan species had been introduced as a single-gender species -- all male. Turns out the females are born every seventy-five years or so. (Thank you, Isaac.)
Unfortunately, a female's birth is not a celebration. Moclan tradition and society dictate that females be "corrected" to male as soon as possible after birth.
This tradition pits Bortus against basically all his crewmates, especially Dr. Finn. And although Isaac is open to the idea, Captain Mercer is not sympathetic to Bortus' situation either.
Being a girl is not a condition. There are no health risks. Having a vagina doesn't give you a lisp. I mean, depending on how you use it.Mercer
If The Orville Season 1, Episode 2 reminded you of ST:NG's "The Most Toys" where Data is abducted to be added to a private collection, this episode echoes "The Outcast" where the Enterprise crew meets a species with NO gender that treats gender identification as a perversion.
The Moclans take misogyny to a whole new level and yet it doesn't feel over the top in light of our real world where female genital mutilation, sex-selection terminations, and Trump exist.
In fact, its horror is in how potentially possible it is with medical advances being what they are.
Vorak: I do not see any complication. The child will be taken to Moclas where she will undergo the corrective procedure.
Grayson: Don't start passing out penises just yet, Captain Vorak.
It's fascinating to see how willfully blind people can be even when confronted with proof that their beliefs are fundamentally flawed.
Alara Kitan is acknowledged to be stronger than any Moclan but the Moclan advocate, Kagus, insists that a male Xelayan would be even stronger.
Even bringing a Moclan female who has lived her entire life "unaltered" and testifies to being happy with herself can't change their minds. No matter that she is, in fact, the most respected writer in their entire society, having published under a pen name.
When Klyden confesses to being born female, it could be assumed he'd be supportive of not changing their daughter but the dogma is so engrained that he risks his relationship with Bortus in order to "do the right thing" in the eyes of Moclan culture.
I love that Mercer feels the need to question the imposition of the Planetary Union's ethics on Moclan tradition. It's a dilemma that every Star Trek fan wrestles with.
Mercer: I'm just policing myself because we all know how easy it is to judge another culture's way of life just because it's alien to us.
Grayson: But you have to balance that against some universal code of ethics
As incredibly deep as this issue dives, The Orville still manages to be a quintessential MacFarlane product.
There's a little lewd and a little crude to season the meal and keep us all grounded in the entertainment factor.
Norm MacDonald's Yaphit blob alien spends his time in sick bay trying to convince Doctor Finn that she's ready for his (particular) jelly.
Malloy's experimentation with holographic recreation programs turns a Mexican shoot-out into dance show-down, much to Mercer and LaMarr's disappointment.
Vasquez: Perhaps we settle this the traditional way
Mercer: You mean a show down. If that's the way you want it.
Vasquez: No, senor. We will have a dance contest.... I have taken many years of jazz and tap. If you can beat me in a dance-off, I will surrender.
Even the turning point in Bortus' thinking comes with booze. Props to Peter Macon as the stoic officer, managing to convey a massive epiphany with just raised eyebrows as he watches the 1964 movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
His choice of babysitters needs a little refinement, mind you.
Bortus: Please watch the child for me. I must find Klyden
Malloy: Yeah, no problem
LaMarr: He just left his baby with two drunk dudes.
Malloy: Reminds me of my dad. Ah, I miss him.
My gripes with this episode are pretty minute when you consider the huge emotion it evoked.
Enough already with Grayson's maternal coos. When she was trapped in the Calivon zoo, she was determined to save the alien child. Fine, that's great, good move for the heroic Union officer looking to right wrongs.
But her line about unwanted children? I get it, she's got ovaries that need attention.
But to be fair, she gets some very good lines elsewhere but mostly when playing off Mercer.
Grayson: I'd have been pretty pissed off if my parents had made the unilateral decision to make me a guy.
Mercer: And, while it may have saved me an entire marriage if they had, it still would've been wrong.
My only other critique is that Dr. Finn states that the Moclan have industrialized the entire surface of the planet as the Orville's shuttle approach Moclas.
So how was Heveena able to live undetected up in the mountains an hour away from the tribunal building? That's a lot of landscape not industrialized. Also not used for weapons testing.
You'd think with constant detonations being set off, she'd be uncovered like a Caddyshack gopher at some point in her long lifetime.
Overall though, the fact that The Orville was able to strike a truly emotional note on par with a Season 5 episode of ST:NG (one of my favorite seasons) really excites me.
The result of the tribunal's ruling made me hurt. It made me think. Most of all, it made me want to watch more.
To be invested enough to want, no, NEED to see how Bortus and Klyden's relationship recovers from this conflict and how they raise their son after only THREE episodes means that The Orville has made its mark with impunity.
We must give him a good life. Whoever he becomesBortus
Okay, I think I've got all my gooey feelings out now.
Go ahead, tell me I'm a hormonal nut and that the episode was all talk and not enough lasers.
Of course, you'd be wrong. There was a BIG laser.
Or share your own OMG moment or, better yet, watch The Orville online and find a few of them.
Is The Orville boldly going where Trek never did because Trek paved the path? Or is it out-Trekking the Trek to come?
Does Mercer hold up in comparison to Picard and Kirk?
Vorak: You are... very fragile, Captain Mercer. Are you aware of this?
Mercer: There's an anti-bullying law named after me. Yes, I'm aware of it.
Did anyone else notice that the general motif of the episode was penises? I'm honestly pretty okay with that. I was braced for far more with MacFarlane and MacDonald in the house.
Finally, now that we're three episodes in, do you think The Orville has the legs to take this crew into Renewal-land? I'm hoping TPTB are more clear-sighted than the Moclan tribunal. This is a ship with the chops.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.